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Solar screens are devices that are semi-permeable to light, but provide protection against some forms of harmful ultraviolet light. They are very common in cars and in some buildings where the setting sun can cause very harsh light through the windows at various times of the day. They are also used in recreational areas, such as parks and pools, and as patio shades.
One of the most common places to see solar screens is in cars and other vehicles as solar window shades. On buses especially, where there are very large windows, they are often installed. In car windows, they are commonly seen when babies are present. Due to the nature of infant car seats, the infant's head is always positioned upward. That makes it important to have something there that can block the light. Otherwise, the baby's eyes may be pointing directly into the sun.
Another common use is at swimming pools. Solar screens at public pools are especially important, as people generally have a great portion of exposed skin and are there for many hours. In these cases, pool builders may not only install solar screens on the deck, but also over some of the pool area itself. This will allow those who want to take advantage of the shades to enjoy both the deck and the water at their convenience.
Homeowners may choose to take advantage of a solar screen either as a patio shade or retractable awning. This ability to retract provides an even greater benefit to the homeowner because it allows for the awning to be rolled back during cloudy days and at night. This can change the entire atmosphere of the patio and help provide an entirely different look.
Solar screens come in a wide variety of colors, though the most common color is black. Swimming pools often like brighter, more cheerful colors that matches a color scheme of the overall facility. For those who want something more customized, solar screens can be made with different designs or advertising different products. In fact, the manufacturers of solar shades for use by those with babies often prominently display their brand on the screen.
The cost of a solar screen greatly depends on the use and the size. Those which attach to car windows are usually available for less than $20 US Dollars (USD). Solar screens for commercial use may cost many thousands of dollars. In such cases, it is not only the screen that needs to be considered, but also the support structure, which can also be very expensive, depending on how large it is.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are solar screens and how do they work?
Solar screens are window treatments designed to reduce heat transfer and UV radiation from the sun into a building. They are made from a special mesh material that reflects, absorbs, and disperses sunlight before it can penetrate the glass. This helps to keep indoor spaces cooler and protects furnishings from sun damage, ultimately improving energy efficiency.
Can solar screens really help lower energy costs?
Yes, solar screens can significantly lower energy costs by reducing the amount of heat entering a home, which in turn decreases the reliance on air conditioning. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar screens can improve a window's efficiency by up to 70% on west-facing windows and 77% on east-facing windows, leading to substantial energy savings.
Are solar screens easy to install and maintain?
Solar screens are relatively easy to install; they can be fitted to the outside of existing windows without the need for major renovations. Maintenance is also straightforward, requiring only occasional cleaning with mild soap and water to remove dust and dirt, ensuring they continue to function effectively.
Do solar screens obstruct the view from inside?
Solar screens can slightly reduce visibility from the inside, depending on the screen's tightness of the weave and color. However, they are designed to maintain outward visibility while still providing protection from the sun. The reduction in glare can actually improve the clarity of the view in some lighting conditions.
How long do solar screens last?
Solar screens are built to be durable and withstand exposure to the elements. With proper maintenance, they can last up to 10-15 years. The lifespan can vary based on factors such as climate, exposure to the sun, and the quality of the screen material.
Are solar screens effective in all climates?
Solar screens are most effective in hot, sunny climates where they can prevent significant heat gain through windows. However, in cooler climates, they may not be as beneficial during the winter months, as they can block some of the free solar heating that could help reduce heating costs. It's important to consider seasonal use or easy removal if living in a mixed climate.